I’m pretty fussy about what dance I go see these days. I used to work in the business and saw more than my share of great—and not so great—contemporary dance. But when I saw that Nederlands Dans Theater was coming to the NAC, I knew immediately it was a must-see.
First off, the dance company attracts some of the most technically brilliant and versatile dancers in the world. You could probably ask them to dance the Macarena and it would still be glorious and mesmerizing.
The company was created 60 years ago, when more than a dozen runaways from the Dutch National Ballet formed the Nederlands Dans Theater as a home for modern works. The company continues to push artistic and creative boundaries today.
Then there’s the fact that two of my all-time favourite choreographers, Crystal Pite and Hofesh Schechter, are on the bill.
If you don’t know of Crystal Pite, you should. She is a Canadian choreographer who has taken the dance world by storm. Her 2015 Betroffenheit, created in partnership with writer and performer Jonathan Young, is considered iconic in the canon of contemporary dance, and absolutely everyone I know who saw it said it transformed them.
Pite is based in Vancouver and runs her own company, Kidd Pivot, from there. She is regularly invited to choreograph for major companies around the world, and is also an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells in London and an Associate Choreographer with Nederlands Dans Theater.
In The Statement, Pite joins up again with Jonathan Young, this time to create a short, one-act “play” about a fictional group of characters that have been asked to fuel a conflict in a distant country for political and financial gain. When asked to spin the situation to exonerate their superiors, the four characters battle it out in a bid to protect their own skin.
Hofesh Schechter is an Israeli choreographer who trained under the great Ohad Naharin, former artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company and creator of a movement language called Gaga.
Now based in the UK, Schechter has his own company and is also an Associate Artist at the prestigious Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. He is known for his explosive style of movement, and for composing his own musical scores to complement his choreography. In Vladimir, Schechter captures the agitation of youth through intense movement and a powerful soundscape.
While I’m less familiar with the work of Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, I am very curious about their 2017 creation Singulière Odyssée, the final performance in the evening’s program. It has received rave reviews and is described by The Washington Post as, “a crowded crossroads of longing and confusion and unseen forces.” Taking place in a waiting room in a train station in Basel, Switzerland, Europe’s busiest international border station, it is a beautiful reflection on travel and transformation.
Nederlands Dans Theater comes to the NAC’s Southam Hall on Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18 at 8pm as part of the NAC’s week-long focus on the arts and artists of The Netherlands. Tickets begin at $29, with a limited number of half-price student tickets available. Live Rush tickets are $15 on the day.